the leitmotif of mid-autumn is deception. a heavy dew that looks like hoarfrost but doesn’t kill. roadsides littered with heaps of trash that turn out to be apples. animals that scurry in front of your car’s tires that are really flocks of brown leaves or, sometimes, vice versa.

sound travels oddly. walking from the top of a small rise on the north side of the house down to the summer pasture at dusk with a bale of hay, the chirp of crickets fades in like a badly tuned radio. at the summit, it’s a distant hum. 20 feet on and only 10 feet lower down, it’s a resonant orchestra, a thousand tiny car alarms. geese flying so high that they’re just a grey film sound as though they’re about to land all around you, wingbeats and goose breath and all.

the air doesn’t mix, even on a breezy day. elevation and depression, light and shade don’t seem to matter. there are cold pockets, like cherries in a fruitcake, like striding through ghosts on the road, like finding doorways through a series of parallel dimensions where the temperatures aren’t the same, but the landscapes stay true.

the scent on the wind is woodsmoke. or is it raindrops? or decay? or burnt sugar? it changes, prickling the brain, with every breath in. stopping to take deep gulps of air only confuses the nose more profoundly.

showers of leaves, sprays of brown grass, skeins of geese winging inexorably southward all promise snow and silence and stillness, but autumn seeks to deceive as well as to warn.

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